Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Advocates: Repealing Obamacare Will Hit PA Children Hard

Andrea Sears, Public News Service

Medicaid expansion helped reduce the rate of uninsured children in Pennsylvania to 4.1 percent. (James Gathany, Judy Schmidt, USCDCP)
Medicaid expansion helped reduce the rate of uninsured children in Pennsylvania to 4.1 percent. (James Gathany, Judy Schmidt, USCDCP)
HARRISBURG, Pa. – Child advocates say repeal of the Affordable Care Act would leave thousands of Pennsylvania kids without health insurance. President Trump and congressional Republicans already are taking steps to repeal the landmark health-care law.

According to Joan Benso, president and CEO of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, that would reverse the gains the state has made toward getting all children insured.

"Some kids could lose coverage because they had pre-existing conditions," she said. "Other children could lose coverage because they are over the age limit of when you could stay on your parents' health insurance prior to ACA."

Almost 90,000 young adults who have "aged-out" of their parents' health insurance or extended Medicaid for foster children would become uninsured.

Benso pointed out that when parents get health insurance, so do their children – and prior to the ACA, there were more than 130,000 uninsured parents in Pennsylvania.

"The expansion of Medicaid in our state helped more of those families come into coverage, and we watched the number of children who were uninsured decrease," she explained.

She said the Medicaid expansion helped reduce the uninsured rate for children in Pennsylvania to 4.1 percent, an all-time low.

While federal legislators have said the Affordable Care Act will be replaced by "something better," just what that replacement would be has not been made clear. Still, Benso concedes that there may be some parts of the law that should be repealed.

"But this conversation needs to slow down until those details are on the table," she added. "We can examine them and say, 'What are the pros and cons of the alternative?'"

Right now, she said, the federal government picks up about 90 percent of the cost of the Medicaid expansion and CHIP, the Children's Health Insurance Program, in Pennsylvania, money the state cannot afford to replace.

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